'I was surprised to receive so much trust and responsibility from a professional organization'
Major: Human Services
Internship: Worked with the Opportunity Council in Bellingham teaching classes in job searching and workplace skills. Also maintained a collection of materials in the lobby offering advice and tips for job seekers.
More on how to get an internship
How did you find your internship?
I found the internship through an email sent out by a Human Services major administrator. When any organization notifies the Human Services program that they’re looking for interns, the administrator sends out a mass email to Human Services students.
Why did you want this internship?
I wanted this internship because it fit my interests. I wanted to learn more about employment skills and all the nuances that go into them, and to help individuals gain the skills necessary to compete in the job market.
How can students get the most out of an internship experience?
Students get the most out of an internship by consulting their on-site supervisor and their on-campus instructor to establish challenging objectives. The student should finish the internship with new skills or knowledge, all while having the overall goal of growing as a learner and a professional. But ultimately, an intern needs to seek out challenges.
What’s been the most important thing you learned?
I have learned many important things pertinent to myself, others and the field. One particular thing I learned is that an individual's personality and personal side can play into their professional side, and if done correctly, can complement that professional side.
For example, I am the son of a single father who worked construction and smoked cigarettes for years. I had a blue-collar, cigarette smoking single father in my class, and I understood how easily he could become frustrated with computers, and would likely need a cigarette break. Though he did became frustrated, I pushed him to look for a few more jobs and apply for just one more, and then we would break and he could go for a cigarette. Without knowing blue-collar workers or smokers, I may have been uncomfortable in that situation. However, I drew from my experiences to optimize the interaction in a professional manner.
Any big surprises or challenges?
I was surprised to receive so much trust and responsibility from a professional organization, while just being a student. This surprise has helped me see my potential.
Do you have any advice for families of students?
Encourage your student to engage an internship. It is an amazing experience, and it will help them be more competitive in the job market.
How has the internship experience changed you or your future plans?
Although I gained an authentic experience within the human service field, I have realized that I do not want to focus my career on the adult population, but rather specialize with youth. Tthis is beneficial because it may have saved me from applying for and accepting a job in which I would not be as motivated.
Just by being a part of Opportunity Council revealed several organizations and programs I had not known previously. The new knowledge of these organizations and programs has widened my awareness of potential opportunities.
How has Western prepared you for your internship?
Western prepared me for the internship by having seminar classes that would focus on my internship and help me sort through any learning or difficulties present in my internship.
-- Interview by Brenna Greely